Hariri in ‘Direct Contact’ with Turkey over Lebanese Wounded in Istanbul

Newly-assigned Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaks to journalists at the presidential palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016. Lebanon's newly elected president, Michel Aoun, on Thursday, asked former Premier Saad Hariri to form a new government, after he secured an overwhelming parliamentary majority to be named as the next prime minister. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Prime Minister Saad Hariri was on Sunday following up on the details of the armed attack that targeted an Istanbul nightclub and caused many casualties, including Lebanese citizens, his office said in a statement.

“I am in direct contact with the Turkish officials to follow up on the details of this crime and on the situations of the Lebanese citizens who were present at the place targeted by the attack,” Hariri said.

He added: “The competent authorities have been told to take all measures to ensure the safety of the wounded and their safe return.”

“This is a new episode of the episodes of terror sweeping states and societies, and all international efforts must unite to combat this scourge and eradicate it from its roots,” Hariri said.

He concluded: “The Lebanese government renews its solidarity with the Turkish people and leadership, and expresses its deep sympathy to the families of the victims of all nationalities, especially the Lebanese who were targeted in this terrorist attack.”

At least two Lebanese citizens were killed and seven others were injured in the attack while a young Lebanese woman, Rita al-Chami, was reported as missing.

Thirty-nine people, including many foreigners, were killed when a gunman went on a rampage at the Reina club, one of Istanbul’s most exclusive nightspots, where revelers were celebrating the New Year.

Hariri later called President Michel Aoun to brief him on the contacts that were conducted with the Turkish authorities.

“The president stressed the need to take all measures necessary to ensure the safety of the wounded and to repatriate the dead and the injured,” a statement issued by Hariri’s office said.

“Accordingly, it was decided to dispatch a Middle East Airlines plane carrying a delegation from the Foreign Ministry, a medical team and a team from the High Relief Commission, in order to assess the situations of the wounded and pave the way for transferring them to Lebanon,” the statement said.

Public Works and Transport Minister Youssef Fenianos meanwhile announced that a plane will be put at the disposal of the families of the victims.